Burundi : No news from Marie-Claudette Kwizera since her kidnapping, the Observatory refers the case to the UN

Press release
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(Paris-Geneva) 43 days after the enforced disappearance of Marie-Claudette Kwizera, Burundian authorities are still refusing to provide any information about her fate or whereabouts. Facing this silence, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT joint program) decided to report the case to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) of the United Nations in order to locate her without further delay.

On December 10th 2015, around 6PM, Ms. Marie-Claudette Kwizera, treasurer of the Iteka League, FIDH member organization in Burundi, was abducted near the central polyclinic of Bujumbura. She was forced into a vehicle of Burundian National Intelligence Service (NIS).

On December 12th, a NIS agent named Mr. Dieudonné Bigirimana aka "Taison" informed the family of Ms. Kwizera that she was detained in the premises of NIS, and asked for 3.5 million Burundian francs (about 2050 euros) in exchange for her release. However, despite receiving the ransom, no information about the location of Ms. Kwizera was provided. The family then filed a complaint, following which Mr. Bigirimana was himself arrested on January 4th 2016, and he has been detained by the NIS since.

On January 13th 2016, one of Ms. Kwizera’s relatives went to NIS premises and was told that agents have searched her in the detention facilities but have failed to find her.

« The Observatory will do everything in its power to obtain the release of Marie-Claudette Kwizera and to ensure that those responsible for her disappearance are brought to justice”

Karim Lahidji, FIDH president.

“This disappearance forms part of the climate of repression of civil society in Burundi, leading dozens of human rights defenders and their families to exile. No democratic society can exist without human rights defenders. It is urgent to take all necessary measures to remedy to this situation”

Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of OMCT.

The Observatory is concerned about the respect for the physical and psychological integrity of Marie-Claudette Kwizera and calls upon Burundian authorities to immediately disclose her whereabouts and to take all necessary measures to release her.

The Observatory also calls upon Burundian authorities to publicly condemn her abduction and to launch a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation to identify those responsible in order to bring them to justice.

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